Joseph is wiling away his days in a tea shop looking for inspiration. Ryan is wiling away his days in a tea shop looking for adventure. Naturally, the pair click. The entire plot of
A musical which treats its characters and audience with respect
In fact, simplicity seems to be crucial to the mini-musical. It’s a delightfully low-key 45 minutes, which sees naturalistic acting, a modest set (consisting of only five stage blocks) and a no-frills approach to lighting achieve much success in restraint. The gently funny script demonstrates similar astuteness, crafting a story simple enough that the idea at its heart- broadening one’s horizons- can be effectively impressed on to the narrative. It’s just a shame it felt the need to be a musical.
The original music by David Kingsmill and Nicholas Chave is decent if a little unmemorable; the issue is that the numbers just seem at odds with the feel of the material around them. This is a show which flourishes in the authentic dialogue between Joe and Ryan and the emotive style of musical Out of the Lens buys into doesn’t seem justified by the text. Further, the lyrics often feel like a retread of pre-established exposition, giving the songs the appearance that they exist to pad the slight story. They are, by and large, entertaining performances in their own right, though they appear to dance around the top of the actors’ ranges. Whilst Guy Woolf and Andrew Walker are both very capable singers, I would much rather watch Woolf’s loveable Joe bumble about his bedroom trying to find the best light to shoot topless Ryan.
As the story draws to a close, Out of the Lens makes clear that it knows the difference between simplicity and predictability. After hitting every expected story beat in the will they/won’t they straight/gay relationship, the ending is refreshing in its believability. It’s representative of a musical which treats its characters and audience with respect – if only those characters would respect their audience by keeping their emoting to unassuming monologue instead of melodious outcry.